This time last year I received a mystery package through the letterbox. I wasn’t expecting anything, didn’t recognise the handwriting and I opened it to discover a gorgeous bundle of collage papers and a card from artist Sam Waters. She said she had seen my Sketchbook Project on Instagram and wondered whether I could use these papers in one of my books. After all I was going to be making one every month.
I was over the moon, firstly to receive such a package of goodies in the post, which isn’t a very common experience in the days of emails. Secondly, I thought it was lovely that this self-directed project had connected with someone else in such a positive way. We then went on to meet up online and as we chatted we mulled over the possibility of each making a sketchbook and sending it backwards and forward to each other, as a creative sketchbook collaboration.
Immediately I had a good feeling about this. A few weeks later I had made my book and sent it off to Sam and I received a book from her. We had agreed this would be a slow, no-pressure, comfortable process with no time constraints. As it turned out, that was a good decision as we both had rather busy years.
In January we meet face to face in Birmingham for an -in-real-life sketchbook swap and we spent all day chatting and making art. Below I mention the benefits of such a collaboration. I have personally experienced all of these as part of this lovely connection.
Benefits of a Creative Collaboration
Inspiration: this has given me huge boost to my inspiration. I think Sam and I have inspired each other, pushing the boundaries of our creativity and encouraging exploration of new themes, materials, mark making, techniques and approaches etc.
Increased visibility: We each brought our own base of followers therefore, exposing each other's work to a broader audience.
Motivation: Collaborating with another creative, such as Sam Waters, is undeniably motivating. Our recent meeting left me feeling inspired and energized, driven by the shared enthusiasm and energy for our project.
Shared Goals: Working with another creative towards shared goals not only impacts motivation and drive but also infuses our work with purpose.
Sharing skills: Our collaboration goes way beyond the project, leading to the valuable exchange of ideas, knowledge, skills, and inspiration across various aspects of our creative business.
Learning Opportunities: The collaboration has exposed me to new techniques and materials, and I've even treated myself to some new colours. We've shared information about memberships, courses, podcasts, and recommended social media accounts.
Accountability: Having someone to be accountable to has been crucial in maintaining focus throughout our project. The flexibility in pace ensures manageability during busy periods. We knew there was no pressure to deluver by a certain time.
Sense of Community: Recognizing the importance of community for artists, forming connections and building a sense of community has been rewarding on multiple levels.
Friendship: One unexpected and delightful outcome of our collaboration is the genuine friendship formed with Sam.
Mutual Support: The collaboration provides not only professional but also personal support. Having someone in your corner who understands the challenges is reassuring and nurturing, enhancing the sense of mutual support.
Another creative collaboration that has been on my radar for a while involved artist, Christine Evans and jewelller Rachel Brown. They collaborated on a unique project which saw them working together to create some wonderful silver pieces, including the ones I have just treated myself to. Having purchased these gorgeous one off earrings I spoke to Rachel to ask about her experience of the collaboration.
This is what she had to say:
‘I’ve never collaborated with another artist before and this collaboration with Christine Evans came about quite spontaneously. She had bought a necklace from me, I was unaware of her work at that point and I instantly fell in love with her collages and the beautiful shapes she creates. A mutual appreciation of each other’s work led to a very short discussion about the possibilities of me making some jewellery pieces using Christine’s collages as starting points. There was no real goal or end point just an agreement to document the process on social media. This aspect of the process was a huge learning curve for me as I am not as social media savvy as Christine! Our communication was purely through watching each other on Instagram.
What did I get from the process…
I personally liked the interaction with another creative. I work on my own in my home studio and I haven’t done a craft fair in nearly four years so it was good to learn about someone else’s practice. I enjoyed the process, it freed my own drawing and designing, I didn’t feel I needed to stay true to the Rachel Brown aesthetic. I learnt how important self promotion is, it doesn’t come easy blowing my own trumpet!
The resulting jewellery was never about generating sales so the response to the pieces has been fantastic and gain Christine has done a fantastic job of promoting them.
My tips for a collaboration
· Find an artist you love, it doesn’t need to be someone who works in the same discipline, in fact I would say the best outcomes aren’t.
· I don’t think the end goal needs to be a huge event or exhibition, working with or being inspired by someone’s work can simply be a creative exercise or a much needed kickstart/boost to your own creative practice.
· Show /document the process and thoughts. Other people’s way of working can be as fascinating as the final outcomes.
· Communicate – however that might be.